Tanya Coats Occupational Therapy

What to do if you tripped or fell and heard a “pop”

Accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. Regardless of your activity level or how physically fit you think you may be, you’ll never know when you might trip or fall. You can slip and fall during a rainy or snowy day, but you can also experience an accident as temperatures heat up and you head out to get just a bit more exercise before hitting the beach in summer. Running, biking and rollerblading are just some of the activities that can put one at risk for injury from trips or falls. 

Now, what do you do if you accidentally fall and you hear a weird pop? In this article, you’ll find out what to do and where to go if you think you have a hand injury.

Did I break a bone? The Common Causes of Broken Bones or Fracture

If you were running and tripped, put your hand out to brace your fall and heard a pop or crack, you probably broke something. But that’s not the only way you could have broken something; there are 4 main causes of broken bones in the hand and wrist area:

  1. Falling on an outstretched arm, especially from a standing position
  2. Car accidents or other collisions in which your arms may be outstretched and receive undue pressure
  3. Something falling on the hand, crushing it
  4. Accidents while playing sports, i.e., falling, being stepped on, impact from a ball or person

But, is it really broken?

When you fall on your arm and hear a “pop,” it does not always mean you broke something. It may be due to a sprain instead of a fracture. To more accurately determine if it is a fracture, you should watch out for other signs and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of hand fracture

The common symptoms of broken bones include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Joint or bone deformity
  • Inability to move the fingers or wrist
  • Finger/s appearing shorter
  • Finger crosses or “scissors” over the finger beside it when trying to make a fist

If you notice any or all of these symptoms, you likely have a hand fracture. 

What do I do next?

If you suspect your hand or arm is broken, your best option is to stabilize it and go to the emergency room for an X-ray.  Usually there, they will stabilize it and tell you to follow up with an orthopedic specialist. 

In severe fractures, you may even need surgery.  Follow up with the doctor after a fracture is crucial as soon as possible because they will replace the splint with something else that should be better fitted to allow you to move parts that are NOT broken. 

Ask your ortho specialist how bad is the fracture? Is it stable? And can you start hand therapy?  The follow up with the orthopedic doctor as well as hand therapist is especially important to reduce the pain, get moving and returning to that active lifestyle faster! 

Why do I need hand therapy?

Hand therapy is the only thing that will enable you to regain full usage and range of motion of your hand and fingers. After you get the cast off, your fingers will be stiff and you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to hold a hairbrush again, let alone return to your hobbies. 

That’s where hand therapy comes in – our hand therapist at Hands On Therapy gives you strategies and exercises to restore functioning of the hand to the highest level. 

Occupational therapy in general and hand therapy in particular aim to ensure that you can get back to doing what you love without pain or discomfort. 

Furthermore, it dramatically reduces the likelihood of developing complications associated with hand fractures. Some patients continue to have problems with stiffness and loss of function (contracture), especially when they do not follow therapy instructions carefully and religiously. 

Article reference: Hands on Therapy

If you need help with this, feel free to contact us or book an appointment.

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